October 15, 2018 | ° F

Teamwork Makes the Scarlet Knight Dream Work: What it Takes to be the School Mascot

Photo by Thomas Boniello |

The Scarlet Knight, nicknamed after the University's namesake, "Henry Rutgers," is embodied by a small team of student volunteers who audition for the position every spring.

Courtside during basketball games and stage front for the halftime show, the Scarlet Knight is arguably one of the most recognizable faces at Rutgers. Yet, a lot of people do not know the person behind the mask. 

Nicknamed after Henry Rutgers, the University's namesake and a philanthropist and United States Revolutionary War veteran, the mascot can be seen cheering on Rutgers sports teams and supporting numerous on-campus events.

Henry's impressive moves can at times distract from the intricacies that accompany being the school mascot. Michael Stickle — head coach of the Spirit Program, coach of all cheerleaders and mascots — spoke about what it takes to be Henry.

“(It requires) the ability to create a huge character in action and movement and a good deal of athleticism. The latter of those can be seen by the pyramids and tosses the Knight does in costume at games with the Coed Cheerleaders," Stickle said in an email to The Daily Targum.

Every spring, a team of students tryout for the position, they are interviewed and put through a series of improvisational scenarios while in costume. Stickle said this process churns out an overwhelming amount of professionals to the position. 

It is important that the team works closely to avoid alerting the public when they switch places. 

"The beauty of this talented team is that the crowd can never tell when we switch people in costume," Stickle said. 

Mascots responsibilities include planning skits, perfecting stunts and organizing schedules. Students are paid for select marketing events but are otherwise considered volunteers. 

Representing Rutgers at some of its most popular events can sound overwhelming, but Stickle stressed how fun and rewarding the job can be. 

“First and foremost, representing Rutgers; travel to away football games and men's and women's basketball tournaments, some extra cash, having front row seats — and even the spotlight at times — at our Big Ten games, meets, and matches; being involved with both the Rutgers community and with charitable events; and the love that our alum, students, and fans bestow. There are no cons, honestly,” Stickle said.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to better reflect Henry Rutgers' role in the University's history.

Sarah Holick

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